Japan's skies with biofuel
keep it clean.
First flight using Our bio-jet fuel (SAF)
clean the skies of japan
Full-fledged start of development of bio-jet fuel
In October 2018, Japan's first bio-jet/diesel fuel production demonstration plant was built in the Keihin coastal area of Yokohama. As the introduction of biofuels overseas continues to expand, Euglena has started working to contribute to the realization of carbon neutrality in Japan.
The demonstration plant is designed to be equipped with facilities and tanks for producing biojet fuel and biodiesel fuel from used cooking oil, which is used as raw material, and oil extracted from microalgae Euglena, and can be shipped from there.
At the time of its establishment, it was planned to start full-scale operation in the spring of 2019, supply biodiesel fuel in the summer, and aim to realize flights using biojet fuel in 2020.
I want to make use of my experience and knowledge
Taking a step toward biofuel development
In parallel with the construction of the demonstration plant, the company was searching widely for personnel familiar with fuel development and production. Six months before the completion of the demonstration plant, Hiromitsu Sasaki joined Euglena.
“I used to work for a wholesale oil company that refines and sells petroleum products. During that time, there were many situations that made me think about how energy should be used in the future. In the process of using it as energy, it inevitably emits greenhouse gases.Even the oil industry was reviewing raw materials and production processes, but there was no drastic solution.”
It was at that time that I met Euglena.
“Euglena has been making advanced efforts since then, such as using Euglena dioxide to cultivate the microalgae Euglena and conducting projects to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. When I learned that I was going to start a fuel business, I began to feel that I wanted to develop biofuels to replace petroleum-derived fuels. I thought I could make the most of it."
Another big factor was that Moriyama, who was the boss of the oil company where he worked, transferred to Euglena as the plant manager of the demonstration plant. Until then, I didn't know him in particular, but I managed to get to Moriyama by following the connections of acquaintances. When I went to listen to the story, they were just recruiting fuel analysts.
“From now on, I decided to demonstrate my abilities at Euglena,” recalls Sasaki.
Even if I jump into my chest with expectations,
Struggling with a series of troubles
plan is greatly delayed
However, from the start, troubles start to appear.
“We were able to start operation of the demonstration plant in the spring of 2019 as planned. At first, we thought that fuel could be produced rapidly immediately after the start of operation. After that, I managed to deal with it and tried to operate it a second time, but this time the second device stopped.
Especially during the third operation, an unprecedented amount of slime-like blockage accumulated, and no fuel came out.
"Not a single drop of fuel came out. I didn't know the cause at all, and I really had a headache."
More trials pile up on such Sasaki.
It is a series of resignations of members.
“The work of scraping out the slime-like blockages from the equipment continued day after day. The members who gathered at this demonstration plant, myself included, wanted to develop new biofuels and contribute to sustainability. All of them were highly ambitious people who came in. The members left one after another because their work continued to be far from the ideal they had envisioned.”
However, Sasaki did not give up. The remaining comrades struggled to overcome the hardships.
"First of all, we continued to inquire with overseas licensors why the slime-like substance was occurring. However, there were no similar cases with overseas licensors, and it was a problem of our own. Every day, we searched for possible causes and continued to analyze whether it was this or that.It was working without any problems at the research stage, but when it came time to put it into practical use, Then I realized that there was such a big wall.”
While the situation is improving little by little, the plan is greatly delayed, and impatience and frustration increase. At that time, Sasaki was put in charge of the biofuel division at the general meeting of shareholders. We will explain the features of Our biofuel and the details of our business to our shareholders.
Inspired by Encouragement at General Meeting of Shareholders
Finally completed the long-awaited bio-jet fuel
"When will the fuel be ready?"
"The plant is running, why can't we produce?"
“In this condition, how much are you going to sell it for in the future?”
At the general meeting of shareholders in December 2019, Sasaki was naturally bombarded with questions like these. According to the plan, the supply of bio-jet fuel should have started in the summer of this year, but Sasaki accepted these suggestions because the fuel had not yet been produced.
“All I could say was, ‘You are right. However, this general meeting of shareholders was a turning point for me.I decided that I would not let it end like this, and that I would definitely do my best on this day.”
Sasaki is a natural sportsman who played rugby for a long time. The competitive personality cultivated in rugby explodes here.
“The general meeting of shareholders sparked a fire, and we made improvements that were more than double what we had been doing up until now. I can't just say "I couldn't do it."I think my colleagues in other departments were probably worried, but I didn't hear any negative voices.In fact, there were many people who supported me, and besides You were very supportive.”
The hard work of the members paid off, and biodiesel fuel was completed in April 2020. A year later, bio-jet fuel was completed in March 2021.
And finally, preparations for the realization of the flight within the year have begun.
In June 2021, the first flight using Our bio jet fuel "SUSTEO" was finally realized. A flight inspection aircraft owned and operated by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism was refueled with bio-jet fuel SUSTEO.
“On the day of the first flight, I was working at the plant as usual. Since it was a government aircraft, information was limited and I didn’t know when it would fly. Maybe that's why everyone at the plant reacted surprisingly dryly... (laughs)"
Sasaki and all the other plant members were calm, thinking that they would all hug each other and share the joy after all the hard work.
About three weeks after the first flight, the second flight was realized immediately. It was during this second flight that I really felt the joy.
“For the second flight, I also went to the site for a SUSTEO quality check. Ah, how well you've come this far!' I was the only one at Kagoshima Airport, and the other members were at Haneda Airport, and I heard that they had a great time. We all took a lot of pictures,” laughs Sasaki.
In order to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, the stable supply of biofuels is now an unavoidable issue. Sasaki has experienced the realization of this flight, and believes that a flight using 100% biofuel is not impossible in the near future.
“SUSTEO, it is legally required to mix biofuel with fossil-derived jet fuel. thinking about. I would like to continue my research on this matter.”
The demonstration period for the biofuel "SUSTEO" has ended, and it is now entering the commercialization phase. Sasaki talks about the prospects for the future.
“Manufacturing fuel is a very important job that involves the lives of people. Fuel troubles are really scary. The production of SUSTEO fuel has stabilized as the number of plant operations increases. Quality control is my job, so I would like to promote it as a safer, trouble-free fuel. We believe that is our sustainability.”
Their work will be indispensable for the spread of biofuels in Japan. I would like to keep an eye on the road to commercialization of the biofuel SUSTEO.
Posted March 2023
- Realization of the first flight using Our biofuel -
- Energy company
Demonstration Manufacturing Department Hiromitsu Sasaki
Joined as a mid-career associate in April 2018.
For a safer quality fuel supply and a future for our children. With the goal of always supplying the highest quality fuel, we will manage and verify quality on a daily basis and improve quality.
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Japan's skies with biofuel
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